Interview Tips

I have had the pleasure of interviewing dozens of people over the course of my career.  That's not a sarcastic statement; I genuinely enjoy interviewing people as I love meeting new people, which is part of the reason I enjoy headshot photography.  I have seen people do and say many silly things over the years.  Hopefully I can help you avoid some of them with these tips and pointers.

1. While there may be a basic level of knowledge that is hard-line minimum requirement, many interviews are really about personality more than knowledge, so don't get too hung up on whether or not you know the answer to every question; being friendly, conversational and interested is more important.

  • A company can teach you knowledge if you are willing to learn, they cannot teach you a new personality or the willingness to learn
  • Your prospective manager is potentially going to have to spend 8 to 10 hours a day sitting next to you for the next few years; they have to be able to get along with you on a personal level
  • Lastly, if you don't have the knowledge to get / do the job, it's probably rather too late to be worrying about that on the run up to an interview.  Don't worry about what you can't change!

2. I f you don't know the answer to a question or haven't had the experience they're asking about, talk about he nearest thing you do know about.  Many interviewers are really just asking questions to get you talking

3. There is nothing worse (as an interviewer) than struggling to find more questions to ask, or running out of things to talk about before you run out of time - as the interviewer, you're are supposed to be in control of the situation, but one-word answers make it almost impossible to fill the time

4. The best possible experience for an interviewer is an interview where they only have to ask a couple of actual questions and the candidate fills the rest of the time with a genuine two-way conversation

  • The difference between sitting down for a nice half-hour chat vs it feeling like trying to get blood out of a stone is all in the hands of the candidate.  It really does drive the overall impression the interviewer walks away with

5. Remember that not everyone is an expert at interviewing.  The person interviewing you may be doing it for the very first time. They may be even more nervous than you!  Make it easy on them and make them look good as interviewer by filling the time comfortably without them having to work too hard and they'll really appreciate it

6. Turn up early, but not too early; 10 to 15 minutes is plenty.  If you turn up half an hour early you will just inconvenience the person interviewing you.  Not a great start.  If you want to find the right building half an hour early in case of travel delays then fine, but once you've found it, walk around the block to kill time.  Unless it is a government / military building with serious security red-tape you are unlikely to need more than 10 minutes to get from front desk to interview room.

7. Be enthusiastic, but not pushy

8. If you are interviewed by multiple people they will likely end up asking you similar or even identical questions.  Answer them as if they were fresh and new.  Saying something like "I've already told the other guy that" will come across as incredibly stroppy and basically guarantee you will not be making it through to the next round

9. Take an interest - ask your interviewer questions about the role, the team, the company, about their role, or even their personal lives if the conversation goes that way.  People love talking about themselves and will walk out of the interview having had a good time and a positive experience.  I once had an interview where it felt like I only said about 25 words - and got the job!

10. If someone hands you their business card then feel free to send a followup email thanking them for their time.  Do this soon after the interview, not days later.  If they do not offer you a business card (and the vast majority of people will not) then do not scour the internet for their email address and start emailing them; even a polite 'thanks for your time' feels like being stalked and will put people off you.  If they wanted you to have their email address they would have given it to you.  Certainly do not harass them with questions about when you'll hear back and how the process if going.  You or your agent should have an HR contact.  Harass them with those kinds of questions.


Next time I will be posting CV tips.  Why not sign up to my blog so you never miss a post?